The private planes will transport you from park to park, and top guides will get you off the beaten path—always a challenge in the parks. And for all you Aman junkies, we’ve scheduled stays at two. (The photo above is of Lake Powell, created in 1963 by the controversial flooding of Glen Canyon. It is visible from space and you'll tour it by chartered boat during your stay at the Amangiri.) When can you go? You should book now, but you'll need a bit of patience—many hotels and park lodges are full until mid-August.
DAYS 1–3: BE AWESTRUCK IN THE SIERRAS—IN YOSEMITE.
Where Yosemite National Park. Why It’s ground zero of conservationism—land so powerfully moving it was the first set aside by Congress solely for our pleasure (originally as a state park). How Land at Mariposa Airport and check into the 1927 Ahwahnee Hotel, a masterpiece of “parkitecture”: soaring stone, glass, and timber, views of several Yosemite icons, star-studded night skies. In the morning hit the Panorama Trail with your guide, hiking from Glacier Point down to Yosemite Valley, passing Half Dome and two of America’s highest waterfalls (lunch is atop Nevada Fall). The next day it’s Mariposa Grove’s famed giant sequoias, then rafting on the Merced River. (Breathe deep: There’s nothing like the scent of the Sierras.)
DAYS 4–5: ALIGHT ON MARS—IN THE GRAND CANYON.
Where Grand Canyon National Park and Lake Powell. Why For a bird’s-eye view of 2 billion years of geologic history. How Fly from Yosemite to Grand Canyon Airport (near the South Rim) for a day of hiking: bucket list views, sublimely colored strata of ancient stone, fossils, traces of the area’s rich and ancient Native American cultures, and a champagne toast on a private lookout over the Colorado River, coursing more than a mile below you. A short flight whisks you next to Page, Arizona, and a car to Utah’s Amangiri—all luxuries set amid a landscape resembling Mars. The next morning, visit choice spots along Lake Powell’s 2,000 miles of shoreline, secluded bays, and aquatic caverns, all via chartered private boat. Swim, tube, wakeboard, you name it. (Followed by another night—yay!—at the Amangiri.)
DAYS 6–7: PLAY HIGH DESERT SOLITAIRE—IN CANYON LANDS & ARCHES.
Where Canyonlands and Arches national parks. Why For the thousands of sandstone arches, spires, and eroded monoliths—our planet’s own surreal sculpture park. How First, fly from Page to Moab, Utah, for a half day of floating on the Colorado River, more accessible on this stretch than in the Grand Canyon. Tonight and tomorrow you’ll sleep at rustic Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa, set on green pastures surrounded by dramatic cliffs. Head off in the morning on a 4X4 expedition (with hiking) into Arches, a high desert plateau dotted with salmon-colored creations. Your guide can take you way off-road here. It’s bumpy, but the reward is total solitude, silence, and the setting sun turning the rocks red.
DAYS 8-9: MAKE THE ALIENS JEALOUS—IN JACKSON AND GRAND TETON.
Where Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. Why They’re so stunning, a photo of them by Ansel Adams was sent on the U.S. Voyagers I and II into outer space. How Fly from Moab to Jackson, Wyoming, check into the Amangani, then embark on an extraordinary scenic float on the Snake River, passing herds of elk and moose while eagles and ospreys hunt for their dinner. Yours will be served at a private riverside camp at sunset. You’ll depart early the next day for Grand Teton park, the most Instagrammable mountain range in the U.S. and a feast of wildlife: grizzly and black bears, bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and golden and bald eagles.
DAYS 10–11: DANCE WITH WOLVES—IN YELLOWSTONE.
Where Yellowstone National Park. Why America’s first national park is both its Serengeti, famous for its megafauna, and its Iceland, with thousands of geothermal features, the most on earth. How A scenic two-hour drive gets you from the Amangani to Wyoming’s Lake Yellowstone Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of this spectacular wilderness of wolf packs and bison herds. You’ll go in as deep as possible with your guide on the first day, and the next is fully backcountry: a horseback ride to (and from) fly-fishing on a remote lake or stream. Later, a plane will take you to Kalispell, Montana, gateway to Glacier National Park.
DAY 12: EXPLORE AMERICA’S ALPS—IN GLACIER.
Where Glacier National Park. WHY For its glacier-carved peaks and valleys, pristine forests, some 750 lakes, and 700 miles of hiking trails. How After a night at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, embark on a guided action-packed day as extreme or as easy as you like, with stops at overlooks, chalets, and historic sites (Native Americans first arrived here around 10,000 years ago). Après? A private champagne cruise on Whitefish Lake.
DAYS 13–14: TOP IT ALL OFF—AT A WESTERN RESORT RANCH.
Where At a ranch resort of your choice: Paws Up, the Ranch at Rock Creek, or Triple Creek Ranch, all an easy transfer away. Why For first-class pampering before your flight home.
HOW TO BOOK IT:
This itinerary was developed with travel advisor Melissa Ladvala, a specialist in custom trips in the national parks of the American West at Mountain Travel Sobek. She knows the most dramatic driving routes, best lodging options, and savviest guides—and will adjust activities to ability levels. Book this itinerary as is or work with Ladvala to customize it to your interests, time, and budget. Contact Ladvala at MelissaLadvala@mtsobek.com
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